Sup International Magazine talks to the APP men’s overall racing world champion, Casper Steinfath who is at home in Denmark as the crises continues. We learn a few tips on how Casper handles his sprint training, plus what he has been up to over the last few months since lockdown!
Photos: APP/ Carter, Naish and by Casper Steinfath media content pool.
SUP INT: Tell us where you are now and what you have been up to over the last few months?
CS: For the last six weeks I have been based at home in Denmark. I was travelling in the US when the Corona Virus kicked into gear and together with my girlfriend, we decided to immediately head home to ride out this wave, so to say. Like everyone else, I have been grounded and not been able to travel since then. At first it was a bit tough as plans for the year were put on ice, but now I have really come to enjoy my time at home.
SUP INT: Are you still getting in the water?
CS: I guess you can say that we have been relatively lucky in Denmark. The virus was contained quickly, and we are still allowed to go outside freely to do our normal activities. I feel really lucky that we are still allowed to go surfing and paddling!
SUP INT: You seem to have so much speed and power when you do sprints…what is the secret to these insane bursts?
CS: To be a strong sprint racer you must be strong physically, but also mentally. You need to have fast reaction times and be ready to deal with navigating chaos quickly. You don’t have much time to make corrections if you make a mistake, so it is crucial that you practice all parts of the sprint race a lot. I spend a lot of time training starts, buoy turns, waves and pressure. Lifting weights in the gym is also important to build explosive muscle mass. But I think the best training for sprints is actually to go paddling in the waves because that gives you explosiveness when catching waves. But that’s just my secret!
SUP INT: Is there any special training you do to handle sprint paddling?
CS: Sometimes I strap a big fat bucket to the back of my board. That adds a ton of resistance and really activates some essential sprint muscles. When I then take the bucket off, I feel like a rocket flying out of the start gates!
SUP INT: Do you have any tips for guys wanting to get better at Sprints?
CS: I think it’s important to train all the components of sprinting. Train and develop your own starting sequence. Make a game plan for how you are going to plant your first stroke and everything until you cross the finish line. The success in sprinting both comes from perfecting details, but also very much about keeping a cool mind and not cracking under pressure. That’s why I like it!
SUP INT: How important is the board and right paddle?
CS: For any type of paddling you need the correct gear for the given conditions, to make the experience much better. The same goes for sprinting if you want to win. You can have fun on any equipment, but if you are aiming for that podium spot you gotta make sure you have a paddle and board that fits your style of paddling.
SUP INT: Do you travel around with a race board or just pick them up when you arrive at an event?
CS: I wish… ha-ha-ha. Around Europe I try to bring my own race boards when I can strap them to the roof of my car. When traveling by air it is becoming harder and harder to fly with boards, so instead I coordinate with the local Naish dealers that usually I can borrow the latest gear from.
SUP INT: Do you follow any type of diet and what is it?
CS: Yes, it’s called the Viking diet… And it includes a bit of everything. Especially Danish pastries!
SUP INT: What side of SUP do you prefer Race or wave and why?
CS: To be honest I really love both, but in different ways. The racing for me is the serious business where I strive to be my best when the flag goes down and the starter blows the horn. SUP surfing, on the other hand, is the creative and more relaxing part of SUP. Surfing is where I go to goof around and recharge my batteries when I am tired of racing. They go together pretty well.
SUP INT: How did it feel to win the overall APP race title last season?
CS: Nothing less than my biggest competitive dream that suddenly came true. It felt magical and was such a special experience. I had my family and a ton of friends with me in Paris for the last stop of the tour and I could not have dreamed for a better way to celebrate the overall victory. Coming from the underdog nation of Denmark, it was always a dream of mine to show that I could also win the Tour and have my name next to Kai Lenny, Connor Baxter and Arthur Arutkin as past champions.
SUP INT: How many events do you normally compete at during a season?
CS: It depends the season and my particular goals. Last year I did 8 but some years I have done upwards of 20. I really enjoy when I am able to do less events but go ALL IN on the ones I do.
SUP INT: How are you dealing with the Corona situation mentally?
CS: Honestly, it’s a tough one. As a human feel bummed and very sad for the people who have had their health affected by the Corona Virus spread. As an athlete I feel frustrated that our platform to compete on is temporarily gone until things become safe again around the world. Training suddenly became much more difficult, as we don’t know when we will be able to compete again. I think it is a hard situation for all athletes, because the inability to perform “on stage” directly impacts our sense of identity. I think many athletes are concerned about this.
SUP INT: Does it worry you?
CS: As an athlete I am anxious for my future, but as a human I feel relatively relaxed. Many things in the world are uncertain right now. Events are happening these days that just are out of our control. As a surfer this lack of control and predictability is something, I feel used to. We can’t control the ocean, but we can adapt to the conditions at hand. We just gotta make do with the conditions we got and hope that the “next call” brings us closer to normal life.
SUP INT: Do you miss the travel right now?
CS: Part of me really misses the international SUP events and fun times I have around the world when on tour. Especially meeting passionate people in the SUP community and seeing friends on other continents is something I deeply miss! But that said, I really am enjoying spending time at home and catching up on other sides of my life!
SUP INT: Do you think you will be competing again this season?
CS: I don’t know, but I really hope I will be competing again at some point in the latter half of the year.
SUP INT: What ambitions do you have left as an SUP athlete?
Inside the competitive arena of SUP, I am really proud of what I have achieved so far in my career. And I still think I have room to improve my level of paddling in pursuit of further world titles, but the real ambitions I have as a SUP athlete probably lay outside of competition. I enjoy pushing myself against Mother Nature and trying to do things that no one has done before. The Viking Crossing between Denmark and Norway was an example of this, and I hope to do more wild and exciting projects like this in the future!
SUP INT: Why do you love SUP?
CS: It is simple. SUP for me is a vehicle that allows me to explore the world I live in. SUP leads me on adventures and to new friends.